Trinity Business School venue sees vibrant networking, lively debate and expert presentations for the fourth annual event, with significant announcements
Thriving growth and development best describes the blockchain, crypto and Web3 community in Ireland, as characterised by the success that was Blockchain Ireland Week 2023.
The fourth run of the now annual conference saw an opening address from the Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath TD, where he acknowledged the work of Blockchain Ireland in bringing together and developing the community. The Minister also acknowledged and thanked Dave Feenan, who after serving three years as Blockchain Ireland Chair, announced his intention to step down, handing the reins to Lory Kehoe, the cofounder.
In his remarks as chair, Feenan described how with 10 key note speakers from all around the world, 12 panel sessions, and a series of community and social events, “we truly believe that the agenda encompasses topics of interest for everyone.”
“Our policy document published last year, shaped the work of our Steering Group over the last 12 months, whereby our focus was on starting the conversations to set up a national task force to establish Ireland as a global Web3 hub and articulating the need for Blockchain, Crypto and Web3 to be part of the National Digital Strategy; evaluating the Web3 skills and competencies requirements both for business leaders and technologists; reviewing funding and mentoring frameworks for the startup and scaling Web3 community. And undertaking a substantial body of work championed by our legal and regulatory working group that will soon see the publication of several reports recommending next steps” said Feenan.
There are now 50 Web3 start-ups in Ireland, Feenan added, asking what was needed to grow this number and what challenges they have faced which needed support. This topic was later addressed by the incoming chair, Lory Kehoe as he gave an update on Ireland’s Blockchain, Crypto, and Web3 ecosystem, building on the 2022 report findings.
Highlighting how the Blockchain/Web3 ecosystem had developed in the previous 12 months, Feenan said there were now almost 2,000 individuals in receipt of the Blockchain Ireland ezine, and as well as having passed the 7,000 follower mark on LinkedIn. “Our start-ups working group hosted several regional meet ups and our monthly meetings continue to attract audiences and guest presenters,” said Feenan.
There was also significant collaboration around the event week, with the ETH Dublin community holding its Blockchain Hackathon over the preceding weekend, as well as facilitated blockchain content at the Dublin Tech Summit,andfollowing on Blockchain Ireland speaking at the premier Northern Ireland Tech event, Digital DNA.
Policy and regulation were recurrent themes throughout the proceedings, and it was with much anticipation that Blockchain Ireland welcomed back Gerry Cross, director of Financial Regulation, Policy and Risk, Central Bank of Ireland.
Cross spoke of the evolving crypto landscape and towards the implementation of MiCA, the recently adopted Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation.
“Technological innovation is an important focus of attention for the Central Bank of Ireland. We are an integrated regulator with a mandate to secure the sound functioning of the financial system so that it sustainably supports a well-functioning economy and the financial wellbeing of citizens,” said Cross.
“Rapidly evolving technological innovation is a key feature of the environment in which we seek to deliver these mandates. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that a core theme of the Central Bank’s Strategy is being future-focused. We aim to secure the benefits of change, innovation and competition for consumers, investors and the economy as a whole while ensuring the risks are well managed.”
“Ireland has significant advantages when it comes to being a place in which fintech products and services can emerge, grow and flourish,” stated Cross.
Among the many panel sessions, where diverse voices included Ben Mayor White of FrensCo in the guise of his Bored Ape avatar, were also notable one-to-ones, such as with pioneering legislator and policy maker Paul Astengo of HM Government of Gibraltar, Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge Capital, and the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Hester Peirce. Expertly interviewed by the Independent’s Adrian Weckler, Peirce described how there is a perception that the US is currently lagging Europe on regulation and policy in crypto.
“There is a feeling that if we lose [the industry] to other jurisdictions,” said Peirce, “it doesn’t much matter because it’s just a bunch of kids trading crypto back and forth with each other, and there’s not much value to it. I think that’s a very narrow-minded approach.”
The Blockchain Ireland Week 2023 conference programme was concluded by a speech from the Minister of State at the Department of Finance with responsibility for financial services, credit unions and insurance, Jennifer Carroll MacNeil TD. The minister expressed her desire to work closely with Blockchain Ireland, having met a delegation of the outgoing and incoming chairs prior to the conference, focusing on making Ireland a friendly and welcoming place for start-ups and companies in the space, and discussing supports, investments, policies, and regulation for the ecosystem.
Blockchain Ireland would like to thank the event team and partners, our hosts at the Trinity Business School, our sponsors without whom nothing would have been possible, and everyone who attended and made the event a huge success.
See you all in 2024!